Speak Up for Better Sex

Despite all the pop songs, TV shows, and movies about sex that would have you believe otherwise, a lot of us (or so we hear) are having sex that is average, even boring. For young people, particularly young women, sex can be something of a challenge because they're still discovering what turns them on.

"One problem among people, particularly men, is that they learn about sex from watching porn," says Karen Gless, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in San Diego, CA. "In bed, they mimic the big, dramatic moves they see in porn films, but that's not necessarily what feels best for their partners," she says.

What's the solution? Well, talking about what turns you on can go a long way towards better sex. If your partner's technique leaves you less than thrilled, or if his or her attitude could use some adjusting, perhaps the two of you should be talking more and boinking less. But beware: criticism directed towards a partner who's naked, insecure, and doing his or her best can result in years of neurosis and sexual low self-esteem. Here's some advice on how to get your partner clued in without hurting his or her feelings.

Say What You Mean Begin by telling your partner exactly what the problem is from your point of view. For example, "It's hard for me to get hot unless you spend some time touching my chest," or "I feel like I'm doing something wrong when you don't respond," are approaches that avoid the twin communication-killers of "you never" or "you always."

Ava Cadell, PhD., a clinical sexologist in Los Angeles, CA, suggests spending some time outside of the bedroom talking about your sex likes and dislikes. Talk about what you'd like to try, what makes you queasy, and even those kinky fantasies you've never shared with anyone. "You'll find out what one another likes and learn about what lines not to cross," says Cadell, the author of Confessions of a Sexologist (Peters, 1999).

Practice Aural Sex If you're not the type of person who'd ever be comfortable giving your partner a laundry list of sexual requests ("First, stroke the back of my neck, and then..."), you can use your communication skills to drop some hints to your partner in a more subtle fashion.

"When you make noise in bed, it releases your sexual energy, and also turns your partner on by letting him or her know that he or she is doing a great job," says Cadell.

The following are Cadell's tips on creating great aural sex:

  • Pump Up the Volume: Start by cranking up the decibels on your littlest "oohs" and "aahs." "Because having sex in silence is like watching a movie without sound," says Cadell.
  • Stick to the Basics: "There are two things that everyone, no matter how inhibited, can say during sex," says Cadell, "They are "yes,' and your partner's name. Just be sure you've got the right name."

  • Practice Makes Perfect: To beef up your sexual vocabulary, start by listing common expressions for body parts or sex acts that you like. Practice saying them out loud when you're by yourself. Once you're comfortable hearing them aloud, you'll be less shy about using them when your partner is in the room. Just make sure that you're really on your own when you're practicing. Your roommates or co-workers don't need to know your nicknames for your partner's private parts.